2012: the year of the smart watch

UPDATE: Walt Mossberg of All Things D just posted his take on one smart watch after spending a week with it. See “Sony’s SmartWatch Not Ready for Primetime“.


Mark my words.

Wearable technology is it.

As the digital world starts to overlap and sometimes, overshadow the physical world, it seems inevitable for those two worlds to merge a little more seamlessly.

Google’s Project Glass, a pair of sci-fi specs that layers notifications and interactivity over your standard vision, may look silly right now. By 2015 it’ll be right on target.

Right now, you need to consciously use a device to unlock the online universe. Whether that be smartphone, tablet or computer, we have to pull something out of our pocket, unlock the screen and tap.

What if you could reduce those three steps to just one? Tap.

Until we start using Google’s goggles, we have a new wearable innovation in “smart watches” — new-age wrist straps for geeks like me who think having all that tech a glance away is pretty cool.

While not everyone is into that whole interconnected, online all the time lifestyle, many people have forgotten how to exist without the Internet. Without convenient, online access people go bonkers. I’ve seen it at the Genius Bar.

They’re just jonesing to connect and get back their email. I try to keep calm and compute on, but even 10 Mb/s makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes.

But that’s neither here nor there.

This invention is really starting to pick up steam with some serious startups and even a tech juggernaut (think, the Walkman) stepping into the game.


First off, hot on Kickstarter right now, Pebble. e-paper watch, a device that lest you connect to your smartphone for notifications, caller ID, weather and of course, time.

Next up is i’m Watch, from an Italian manufacturer. This one starts significantly higher at $469 for a multi-touch, multi-tasking digital timepiece that claims to be “simply the first” of its kind. All of the above are included in a bright, LED glass square strapped to your wrist. Check email, take calls, tweet. One-handed. Er, wristed.

Sony is joining the startups in the competition with its own, aptly named SmartWatch, price TBA.

Sony's aptly named "SmartWatch" is coming soon and doesn't have a price listed. It is compatible with most standard watchbands for inexpensive customization.













Along with i’m Watch, Sony’s take is a dead ringer for the ultimate product + accessory that planted this seed: Apple’s iPod Nano + a “watchband” from LunaTik or iWatchz.

That little duo can be had for as little as $129 for an entry-level 8GB nano and $24.95 for the cheapest strap from iWatchz, totaling just under $170. But the Nano doesn’t connect to your iOS devices just yet. And it can’t take calls. Yet. As soon as Apple releases an update for the software running these wafer-sized gadgets, it will be a well-poised competitor again.

Until then, these new smart watches are essentially wrist displays for smartphones, connecting to both the phone and the Internet via a wireless Bluetooth connection.

While both a cool fashion accessory and useful tool (and toy), naysayers will call it “frivolous”, “overkill” and “unnecessary.”

If any of that is true now, it won’t be for long.

2 thoughts on “2012: the year of the smart watch

  1. Although i have the original Liveview which preiad nicely with my Xperia Play im a bit of a fitness fanatic and went with the Motoactv which is a bit more independant if needed. It can still do notifications/missed calls etc. Ill be getting the smart watch on day one because im a sucker for gadgets especially Sony Ones and i suppose it will pair nicely with the Xperia S!!

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